PARENTAL neglect is the main reason why one in three Austrian children suffers psychosomatic illness and one in five experiences anxiety, according to Dr Gerhard Weintoegl, head of the country's Association of School Doctors.
Addressing a conference attended by 800 school doctors, he appealed to parents to spend more time with their children to appreciate their problems.
A recent survey suggested that during leisure activities most Austrian children value the company of their parents more than the activity itself.
But Dr Harold Eigner, head of psychology at the ministry of education, said that relationships between children and their classmates and teachers must also be considered as a source of psychological pressure.
The plea to parents follows a government campaign for people to have more children. Austria has the smallest families in the European Union, an average of 1.3 children per couple. There are fears that the workforce will dwindle.